Due to current renovations to the University Library, which will be completed at the beginning of 2017, the EUR will be saying farewell to a part of its traditional heritage: the Randtriever.

The Randtriever, a book robot that is able to fetch the books people have ordered in just a few minutes, will be scrapped after many decades of faithful service.

Leen Meijboom, the UL librarian who had been working on his ‘magnum opus’ (video in Dutch) in the library ever since 1969, retired about two and a half years ago. And he had no doubts whatsoever at that point. “The Randtriever still functions perfectly, and I’m convinced that we can use it for another 10 to 15 years,” he said. However, looking back, we now see that he was being a bit too optimistic.

No need to collect books straight away

At first sight, a robot that knows where to find all the textbooks and can fetch them for you in no time seems to be a fantastic and timeless invention. But UL director Matthijs van Otegem says that ordering books in just a few minutes is becoming less important. “Students today are more inclined to order books online and collect them later on,” he adds. “This means that they no longer need to pick them up at the desk straight away.”


Since the robot is part of the university’s traditional heritage, it won’t just end up at the rubbish dump. Instead, a genuine committee will be set up and chaired by the EUR’s ‘heritage supervisor’. This committee will hold consultations to decide what to do with the historical book robot.


Matthijs van Otegem says that after the renovations at the UL have been completed, a self-service system will be introduced for book lending. “This self-service system is really simple,” he explains. “Students can order their books digitally and collect them from a locker after entering their student code.” MvS